"To ensure that all pupils' voices are heard and that the RE curriculum is broad and balanced, it is recommended that there should be opportunities for all pupils to study secular philosophies such as humanism" (Religious education, the non-statutory national framework, QCA 2004). Following this recommendation, Humanism now appears in many RE syllabi including the Devon Draft Syllabus. Devon Humanists are keen to help teachers provide a balance between faith and non-faith based philosophies by supporting the teaching of Humanism and other non-religious belief systems. Humanism provides a non-religious perspective on many social, philosophical and moral issues which are discussed under the National Curriculum subjects
As RE teachers will know, a new Agreed Syllabus is being introduced in Devon from September 2007. This embodies suggestions from the Non-Statutory National Framework for RE produced by the QCA in 2004. The main change, from the humanist perspective, is that the new Agreed Syllabus will include provision for the introduction and discussion of "secular world views" or "secular philosophies (for example Humanism)" no other secular philosophy is in fact referred to. Children will be led to consider "the place and role of religion and beliefs in the modern world especially concerning questions of meaning and ethical issues". The 'beliefs' referred to here are clearly non-religious, and it is importantly recognised here that non-religious beliefs such as those held by Humanists are as relevant as religious beliefs to ethical issues. One of Humanism's main assertions is that human beings are capable of living moral lives without any reference to religion or the supernatural. The new Syllabus claims that RE will help in "combating prejudice and racism"; it will contribute to "developing the key attitudes of open-mindedness, the ability to sustain their [children's] own views, disagree respectfully and listen well to others". Humanism can play an important role in all this because of its inherent quality of not being limited to any class or race. The new Syllabus speaks of the children in our schools as "citizens of a pluralist society within a global community". That 'pluralism' must include attention to the large numbers of people in Britain today who have no religious affiliations but contribute positively to the well-being of society.
BHA's Humanism for Schools website is full of resources for teachers who wish to include Humanism in their lessons. More educational resources are also aimed at teachers, students and parents who are seeking a non-religious perspective on a range of issues. These resources have been highly recommended by schoolzone for educational usefulness. BHA also publish a twice-yearly education newsletter (Edlines available by email or by post) full of ideas and useful resources for teachers.
Now, here's the meaning of life. Well, it's nothing very special. Uh, try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.
Monty Python - The Meaning of Life